Around the Watershed: News and Events

Scholarships Available to Public Officials

Posted on: February 15th, 2018 by Leslie_Zucker

The AWSMP is now offer­ing schol­ar­ships to pub­lic offi­cials from Ashokan water­shed com­mu­ni­ties to attend the NYS Flood­plain & Stormwa­ter Man­agers Asso­ci­a­tion annual con­fer­ence from April 23–25, 2018 in Rochester, NY.  Offi­cials should apply for a schol­ar­ship to attend the con­fer­ence by April 6. The con­fer­ence offers offi­cials the oppor­tu­nity to com­plete con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion cred­its needed to main­tain Cer­ti­fied Flood­plain Man­ager sta­tus, or take the exam to become a Cer­ti­fied Flood­plain Man­ager (CFM). Schol­ar­ships will cover the con­fer­ence and exam fee and travel costs. The AWSMP has assisted 8 local offi­cials in becom­ing CFMs to date! For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact Brent Gotsch at bwg37@cornell.edu or call 845–688-3047.

 

Fall in Love with Your Stream Event Recap!

Posted on: February 6th, 2018 by Samantha Kahl

On Fri­day (2/2), we held our first-ever “Fall in Love with Your Stream” event at local-favorite Bite Me Bak­ery, located in Phoeni­cia. It went off with­out a hitch, with so many won­der­ful mem­bers of the com­mu­nity com­ing in and shar­ing their love for our streams!

Our local com­mu­nity mem­bers were excel­lent com­pany as they shared their sto­ries and mem­o­ries of the water­shed. From grow­ing up on the Eso­pus Creek, to fish­ing the Lit­tle Beaver Kill today, not only did we teach them a few things, we got a les­son or two from them as well. Many of our event par­tic­i­pants shared with us his­tor­i­cal aspects of the Watershed’s land changes and stream ecosys­tems as they rem­i­nisced through aer­ial images from 1972. Oth­ers shared with us their favorite fish­ing spots and dis­cussed the types of fish they have caught.

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The AWSMP staff pro­vided maps and free Eso­pus Creek Cup­cakes for the event, as well as the Love Your Stream dat­ing game and the chance to “Guess that Creek!” where par­tic­i­pants won a prize such as the “Eso­pus Creek” euro sticker or a Trout squishy if they succeeded!

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Over­all, the AWSMP staff had a blast with every­one who came out to Phoeni­cia with us on Fri­day, and we hope you all did too. Thank you to those who par­tic­i­pated, and to Bite Me Bak­ery for not only cre­at­ing the incred­i­ble cup­cakes, but for pro­vid­ing us a space at which to hold our event.

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If you didn’t get a chance to come down on Fri­day, don’t fret! We’ll be pro­vid­ing more events and pro­grams very soon. Check back for updates, and don’t for­get about our social media sites for more info and pictures!

Face­book , Twit­ter, Insta­gram — *New!

Fall in Love with Your Stream!

Posted on: January 23rd, 2018 by Brent Gotsch

Join the Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram (AWSMP) in cel­e­brat­ing our love for streams and fall in love with a stream of your own by attend­ing the “Fall in Love with Your Stream” event at Bite Me Bak­ery, located in the Phoeni­cia Plaza at 5575 State Route 28 on Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 2 from 6:00–8:00pm.

Join us for a fun-filled evening of maps and games, and indulge in an “Eso­pus Creek cup­cake.” Sev­eral mod­ern and his­tor­i­cal maps will be on dis­play. Pro­gram staff will be on hand to answer your ques­tions about streams and the water­shed.  Play a game to win fun prizes, includ­ing our new water­shed board game and The Dat­ing Game for streams.

We will also declare a win­ner of the “Love Poems for Streams” con­test. The pub­lic is invited to sub­mit a poem for consideration:

  • Poem should be no longer than one page and make ref­er­ence to a local stream
  • One sub­mis­sion per author
  • Sub­mit poem by Feb­ru­ary 1 to Brent Gotsch (bwg37@cornell.edu)
  • Author must be present to win a prize!

 

For addi­tional infor­ma­tion on the event, con­tact Brent Gotsch at bwg37@cornell.edu or 845–688-3047 ext. 3. In case of inclement weather the event will be resched­uled for Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 9 at the same time and loca­tion. Please refer to the AWSMP web­site (www.ashokanstreams.org) for weather related cancellations.

Meet New Stream Educator Tim Koch

Posted on: January 22nd, 2018 by Leslie_Zucker

The AWSMP wel­comes Tim Koch to our staff. Tim is a Stream Edu­ca­tor with Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County, an AWSMP par­tic­i­pat­ing agency. Tim will be help­ing us extend the results of stream assess­ment sur­veys to stream man­agers and res­i­dents of the Ashokan water­shed. This sum­mer, Tim will coor­di­nate a joint effort between AWSMP and the Ulster County Dept. of Envi­ron­ment to carry out a watershed-wide assess­ment of stream-road cross­ings. He will also join the AWSMP stream assess­ment crew led by the Ulster County Soil & Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict to help them walk and ana­lyze water­shed streams.

Tim grad­u­ated with a Master’s of Sci­ence in Water­shed Hydrol­ogy and Bio­geo­chem­istry from SUNY ESF in 2016. He most recently worked for the NYS Dept. of State man­ag­ing Local Water­front Revi­tal­iza­tion Pro­gram grants in the North Country.
Please feel free to intro­duce your­self to Tim!
Tim and his puppy.

Tim and puppy

Shandaken-Allaben Local Flood Analysis Final Public Meeting Scheduled for Dec. 18

Posted on: December 13th, 2017 by Brent Gotsch

The Shan­daken Area Flood Assess­ment and Reme­di­a­tion Ini­tia­tive (SAFARI), a com­mit­tee work­ing under the direc­tion of the Shan­daken Town Board, invites every­one to attend a pub­lic meet­ing to see the results of the Shandaken-Allaben Local Flood Analy­sis (LFA). Through­out the year, SAFARI, the con­sult­ing firm Milone & MacB­room and other part­ner agen­cies have been inves­ti­gat­ing flood­ing issues in the ham­lets of Shan­daken and Allaben and will present their find­ings to the pub­lic at this meet­ing. Mit­i­ga­tion rec­om­men­da­tions will also be presented.

The meet­ing will take place on Mon­day, Decem­ber 18 at the Shan­daken Town Hall at 6:30pm. Atten­dees will have an oppor­tu­nity to ask ques­tions and to com­ment on the plan before a final draft is pre­sented to the Town Board early next year.

A copy of the report can be viewed on the Town of Shan­daken web­site.  To learn more about the LFA process a video from the first pub­lic meet­ing is also avail­able on the Town web­site.

Managing Flood Risk Workshop December 11

Posted on: December 4th, 2017 by Brent Gotsch

AWSMP and Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County (CCEUC) Resource Edu­ca­tor Brent Gotsch in con­junc­tion with CCEUC Live­stock Edu­ca­tor Jason Det­zel will be be offer­ing a work­shop on flood­plain man­age­ment for live­stock and agri­cul­tural pro­duc­ers, or any­one with a flood­plain on their prop­erty. The work­shop will occur on Mon­day, Decem­ber 11 and run from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County offices located at 232 Plaza Road in Kingston, NY.

It is free to attend but reg­is­tra­tion is required. Please con­tact Jason Det­zel at jbd222@cornell.edu or call 845–340-3990 x327 to register.

The work­shop will help flood­plain prop­erty own­ers bet­ter under­stand their risk of flood­ing and how to read and inter­pret FEMA Flood Insur­ance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insur­ance Stud­ies (FISs). Addi­tional top­ics to be cov­ered include:

  • The dif­fer­ent types of flood zones
  • How to iden­tify flood­way and flood fringe areas of a floodplain
  • How to com­pute the base flood ele­va­tion of the floodplain
  • What exactly is a “100-Year flood”
  • Com­puter and elec­tronic tools to help iden­tify flood haz­ard zones
  • Live­stock dis­as­ter information

 

If time per­mits there will also be a brief dis­cus­sion on flood insur­ance and how that applies to struc­tures in a mapped floodplain.

Bankfull in the Ashokan Watershed

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

On Sun­day, Octo­ber 29 after a steady and some­times heavy rain­fall, many streams in the water­shed filled their banks and were just about to spill onto their flood­plain. Stream man­agers call this flow the “bank­full dis­charge”. Let’s break that down! “Bank­full” is actu­ally an expres­sion of the channel’s shape, specif­i­cally its width and depth when the chan­nel is filled with water. “Dis­charge” is the vol­ume of water mov­ing down the stream at any given time. The typ­i­cal unit of mea­sure­ment for dis­charge is cubic feet per sec­ond. So “bank­full dis­charge” is the flow when the river is just about to spill onto its flood­plain. This flow typ­i­cally occurs every 1 to 2 years. The last wide­spread bank­full flow event hap­pened in Feb­ru­ary 2016.

The Woodland Valley Creek just past bankfull flow (discharge) on October 30, 2017. The peak of bankfull discharge occurred during the night of October 29 and couldn't be photographed!

The Wood­land Val­ley Creek just past bank­full flow (dis­charge) on Octo­ber 30, 2017. The peak of bank­full dis­charge occurred dur­ing the night of Octo­ber 29 and couldn’t be pho­tographed! Photo by Ulster SWCD.

Why do we care? Because bank­full is con­sid­ered the most effec­tive flow for mov­ing sed­i­ment, form­ing or remov­ing bars, form­ing or chang­ing bends and mean­ders, and gen­er­ally doing work that results in the shape of the chan­nel. If a chan­nel is nat­u­rally sta­ble, any changes caused by a bank­full dis­charge should be rel­a­tively mild. Most aquatic organ­isms, such as our native fish and aquatic insects are well-adapted to these changes, and may even ben­e­fit from them. In fact, look­ing for major changes after a bank­full dis­charge is one way stream man­agers know if a chan­nel is sta­ble or out of bal­ance with the sur­round­ing environment.

If you think you have an unsta­ble chan­nel on your prop­erty, con­tact the AWSMP office for a free site visit to review your options at (845) 688‑3047.

Floodproof Now to Protect Your Structure

Posted on: October 31st, 2017 by Brent Gotsch

The best way to pre­vent dam­age to struc­tures in a flood­plain is to not have them in the flood­plain at all. How­ever, that is not always pos­si­ble. To pro­tect struc­tures from flood­ing and obtain a reduc­tion in flood insur­ance pre­mi­ums, options are to ele­vate (for res­i­den­tial struc­tures) or flood­proof (for non-residential structures).

If you are inter­ested in ele­vat­ing or flood­proof­ing your struc­ture, the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA) has sev­eral good resources avail­able that pro­vide guid­ance on how to do that. In most cases a con­trac­tor will need to be hired to do the actual work.

A great overview doc­u­ment on ele­va­tion, flood­proof­ing and sev­eral other mit­i­ga­tion alter­na­tives is FEMA’s Homeowner’s Guide to Retro­fitting (3rd Edi­tion).

There are other meth­ods to help pro­tect your struc­ture, but they may not result in lower insur­ance pre­mi­ums. How­ever, they can help to reduce dam­ages and are wor­thy of con­sid­er­a­tion for imple­men­ta­tion. The FEMA doc­u­ment “Reduc­ing Flood Risk to Res­i­den­tial Build­ings” is a good source of addi­tional infor­ma­tion on this topic.

Pro­tect­ing your struc­ture from flood dam­age can be a com­pli­cated and expen­sive process, but it is essen­tial to either reduce insur­ance pre­mi­ums and/or pro­tect prop­erty from flood dam­age. Use the resources above as a first step in planning.

Smart Rocks Deployed!

Posted on: October 13th, 2017 by Leslie_Zucker

The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram and the NYC Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion are work­ing with the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey to study the rate at which larger rocks and cob­ble move down stream chan­nels. Fine sus­pended sed­i­ments travel with stream flows and pose the great­est threat to water qual­ity in the upper Eso­pus Creek. But larger mate­r­ial rest­ing on the chan­nel bed is also sus­pended dur­ing stream flows and then rede­posited down­stream. Streams in equi­lib­rium with their sur­round­ing land­scape accom­plish sed­i­ment trans­port in an orderly fash­ion. Rocks and cob­ble on the stream bed are lifted from their loca­tions in rif­fles and rede­posited down­stream in another shal­low area where rif­fles form. It’s when the chan­nel is dis­turbed or thrown out of bal­ance that the process can go awry. Large sed­i­ment accu­mu­la­tions in the cen­ter of the chan­nel, like those deposited dur­ing Trop­i­cal Storm Irene for exam­ple, can split stream flows and push water against the banks. The banks may con­tain fine sed­i­ments that cloud drink­ing water or gen­er­ate more coarse mate­r­ial that blocks bridges down­stream. For this rea­son stream man­agers would like to know more about the coarse sed­i­ment — when and where it moves, to bet­ter main­tain stream chan­nel stability.

The large sed­i­ment, rocks and cob­ble, trav­el­ing down the chan­nel bed is called “bed load.“
The AWSMP is part­ner­ing with the USGS to test dif­fer­ent tech­niques for mon­i­tor­ing the amount and rate of bed­load move­ment. Bed load mon­i­tor­ing is dif­fi­cult, time inten­sive and expense to pull off. Sev­eral tech­niques being piloted are meant to save time and make the effort more manageable.

The USGS has installed hydrophones at two bridges in the water­shed. The hydrophones are trig­gered when flows rise and record the sounds rocks make hit­ting against each other as tur­bu­lent water car­ries them down­stream. USGS sci­en­tists will parse the data and check it against phys­i­cal sam­ples taken at the bridges at the same time to see if a sound sig­na­ture can be used to quan­tify the sed­i­ment being transported.

RFID Tag on Smart Rock

An RFID-tag was drilled and glued into this rock pulled from the stream chan­nel to allow for radio-tracking later.

A sec­ond approach is to embed RFID (radio-frequency iden­ti­fi­ca­tion device) tags into native rock mate­r­ial and then find these rocks later using a hand-held antenna dur­ing sweeps of the chan­nel after bed-load mov­ing storm events. Another “smart” way to track rocks is to put an accelerom­e­ter into pre-manufactured rocks along with the RFID tags to gather the rate at which rocks move.

Finally, USGS staff will deploy staff to cap­ture sed­i­ment as it flows under the bridges. The bed­load sam­plers are low­ered from the bridge to the chan­nel bed and fill with sed­i­ment that is dumped into buck­ets and later sorted and mea­sured. Sam­pling con­tin­ues as long as prac­ti­cal until stream flows recede!

Bed Load Sampler

USGS sci­en­tist Jason Siemion low­ers the bed load sam­pler from a bridge.

The entire effort depends on hav­ing stream flows strong enough to move most of the sed­i­ment lying on the chan­nel bed. Sur­pris­ingly, almost the entire stream bed moves dur­ing flow events that occur as fre­quently as every sev­eral years on aver­age. And at least some of the bed load moves dur­ing smaller events. The project team is hop­ing for just enough rain to cause bed-load move­ment but not enough to cause any damage!

The study will run through 2019 with results to follow.

AWSMP Tries Out the W.A.V.E.

Posted on: September 29th, 2017 by Samantha Kahl

The impor­tance of water qual­ity has always been a top pri­or­ity for water­shed res­i­dents and the stream man­age­ment pro­gram as it works with com­mu­ni­ties to man­age streams. So how do we mea­sure the effects of stream man­age­ment on water qual­ity? One method is macroin­ver­te­brate sam­pling. Macroin­ver­te­brates are insects present within our streams that are vis­i­ble to the naked eye: Stone­flies, Mayflies, and Cad­dis­flies, just to name a few!

Recently, AWSMP staff mem­bers Saman­tha Kahl with Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster County, and Alli­son Lent, Stream Assess­ment Coor­di­na­tor, and Tiffany Runge, Water­shed Tech­ni­cian with Ulster County Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict (SWCD) got out­side to mon­i­tor aquatic insects and do the WAVE! Actu­ally, it’s W.A.V.E. — Water Assess­ments by Vol­un­teer Eval­u­a­tors. This pro­gram is run by the New York State Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (DEC). Vol­un­teers are trained to take macroin­ver­te­brate sam­ples from streams for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion at the DEC office. This prac­tice helps deter­mine stream seg­ments that are poten­tially impaired (e.g. pol­luted or dis­turbed). Macroin­ver­te­brates are sen­si­tive to water qual­ity, so if pollution-tolerant species are present and oth­ers are not, we may have an impaired stream seg­ment that needs fur­ther mon­i­tor­ing. If a vari­ety of sen­si­tive species are abun­dant, it’s usu­ally a good indi­ca­tor for high water quality.

Case-making Caddisfly larva found attached to a rock in a segment of Woodland Creek.

Case-making Cad­dis­fly larva found attached to a rock in a seg­ment of Wood­land Val­ley Creek.

Our pur­pose of going into the field was to get a sense of the water qual­ity at a poten­tial Wood­land Val­ley Creek restora­tion site. Know­ing the water con­di­tions prior to restora­tion pro­vides a bet­ter sense of how restora­tion efforts affect the stream, allow­ing project man­agers to mit­i­gate future restora­tion projects if need be. Our pur­pose also included test­ing out W.A.V.E. pro­gram sam­pling meth­ods. The Ashokan Water­shed Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram is inter­ested in start­ing a W.A.V.E. pro­gram for local com­mu­ni­ties to take part in. Feel free to fill out this short sur­vey regard­ing your avail­abil­ity for a poten­tial W.A.V.E. pro­gram start-up; any feed­back is appre­ci­ated! And don’t for­get to check back soon for more event and vol­un­teer infor­ma­tion at our web­site.

Tiffany Runge, Watershed Technician (left), and Allison Lent, Stream Assessment Coordinator (right), of the Ulster County Soil and Water Conservation District sorting through leaf litter for macroinvertebrate sampling on the banks of Woodland Creek.

Ulster County SWCD’s Tiffany Runge (left) and Alli­son Lent (right) sort through leaf lit­ter look­ing for macroin­ver­te­brates on the banks of Wood­land Val­ley Creek.